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The Race to Berlin (January 1945 - May 1945)

The Race to Berlin (January 1945 - May 1945)

The Battle of Berlin was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II and was designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union.

Starting on January 16th, 1945, the Red Army breached the German front as a result of the Vistula-Oder Offensive and rapidly advanced westward as fast as 30-40 kilometers a day, through East Prussia, Lower Silesia, East Pomerania, and Upper Silesia, temporarily halting on a line 60 kilometers east of Berlin along the Oder River. During the offensive, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. The Battle in Berlin lasted from late April 20th, 1945 until the morning of May 2nd and was one of the bloodiest battles in history.

The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were on March 20th, when the newly appointed commander of the Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici, correctly anticipated that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Soviets managed to encircle the city as a result of the smaller Battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. During April 20th, 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov started shelling Berlin's city center, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front had pushed in the north through the last formations of Army Group Centre. The German defenses were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganized Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, as well as many Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Within the next days, the Soviets were rapidly advancing through the city and were reaching the city center, conquering the Reichstag on April 30th after fierce fighting.

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Soviet Lavochkin La-7 Fighter Soviet Lavochkin La-7 Fighter (1:100 Scale)

The Lavochkin La-7 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the last in a family of aircraft that had begun with the LaGG-1 in 1938.

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Soviet Petlyakov Pe-2 Medium Bomber Soviet Petlyakov Pe-2 Medium Bomber (1:130 Scale)

The Petlyakov Pe-2 (nicknamed Peshka or "Pawn"; also a Russian diminutive for "little Pe") was a Soviet Bomber used during World War II. It was regarded as one of the best ground attack aircraft of the war and it was extremely successful in the roles of heavy fighter, reconnaissance and night fighter.

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Soviet Ilyushin Il-4 Medium Bomber Soviet Ilyushin Il-4 Medium Bomber (1:133 Scale)

The Ilyushin Il-4 (NATO reporting name: "Bob") was a Soviet World War II bomber aircraft, widely used by the Soviet Air Force (VVS, Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily), although not well known.

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Soviet Lavochkin La-3 Fighter Soviet Lavochkin La-3 Fighter (1:100 Scale)

The Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a refinement of the earlier LaGG-1, and was one of the most modern aircraft available to the Soviet Air Force at the time of Germany's invasion in 1941.

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Soviet Polikarpov Po-2 Fighter Soviet Polikarpov Po-2 Fighter (1:100 Scale)

The Polikarpov Po-2 (also U-2) served as a general-purpose Soviet biplane, nicknamed Kukuruznik (from Russian "kukuruza" for maize; thus, "maize duster" or "crop duster"), NATO reporting name "Mule".

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Soviet Polikarpov I-152 (I-15bis) Fighter Soviet Polikarpov I-152 (I-15bis) Fighter (1:72 Scale)

The Polikarpov I-15 was a Soviet biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s. Nicknamed Chaika (Russian: "Seagull") because of its gulled upper wings, it was operated in large numbers by the Soviet Air Force, and together with the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane, was one of the standard fighters of the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, where it was called Chato (snub-nose) in the Republican Air Force, or "Curtiss" (because its resemblance to Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk) in the Nationalist Air Force.

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Free French Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 Fighter - 3rd Fighter Group (Normandie-Niemen Regiment), 1945 Free French Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 Fighter - 3rd Fighter Group (Normandie-Niemen Regiment), 1945 (1:72 Scale)

During the final two years of the Second World War, the Yak-3 proved itself a powerful dogfighter. Tough and agile below an altitude of 13,000 feet, the Yak-3 dominated the skies over the battlefields of the Eastern Front during the closing years of the war.

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German Junkers Ju 87-G2 Stuka Dive-Bomber - Hans-Ulrich Rudel, III Gruppe Kommandeur, SG 2, Eastern Front, 1944-45 German Junkers Ju 87-G2 Stuka Dive-Bomber - Hans-Ulrich Rudel, III Gruppe Kommandeur, SG 2, Eastern Front, 1944-45 (1:72 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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German Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8 Fighter - I/Schlachtgeschwader 2, Hungary, Early 1945 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8 Fighter - I/Schlachtgeschwader 2, Hungary, Early 1945 (1:48 Scale)

Nicknamed the "Butcher Bird," the Fw 190 was Germany's best air-to-ground fighter. Faster and more agile than the British Spitfire, it dominated the skies over Europe as a fighter and was the Luftwaffe's most important ground-attack aircraft.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Fighter - Erich Hartmann, Kommandeur I/Jagdgeschwader 53, Hungary, 1945 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Fighter - Erich Hartmann, Kommandeur I/Jagdgeschwader 53, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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Soviet Bell P-39N Airacobra Fighter - Grigorii Ustinovich Dol'nikov, 100 GIAP, Germany, May 1945 Soviet Bell P-39N Airacobra Fighter - Grigorii Ustinovich Dol'nikov, 100 GIAP, Germany, May 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit.

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Soviet Bell P-39N Airacobra Fighter - Capt. Ivan II'ich Babak, 100 GIAP, Germany, January 1945 Soviet Bell P-39N Airacobra Fighter - Capt. Ivan II'ich Babak, 100 GIAP, Germany, January 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit.

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Limited Edition German Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 Dora-9 Fighter - Gerhard Barkhorn, Geschwaderkommodore Jagdgeschwader 6, Lower Silesia, 1945 Limited Edition German Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 "Dora-9" Fighter - Gerhard Barkhorn, Geschwaderkommodore Jagdgeschwader 6, Lower Silesia, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Nicknamed the "Butcher Bird," the Fw 190 was Germany's best air-to-ground fighter. Faster and more agile than the British Spitfire, it dominated the skies over Europe as a fighter and was the Luftwaffe's most important ground-attack aircraft. Controlled by the skilled hands of aces like Oberleutnant Otto Kittel, the FW-190 gained the reputation of being one of the greatest fighters of all time.

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German Junkers Ju 87D Stuka Dive-Bomber - Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Stukageschwader 2, Eastern Front, 1944-45 German Junkers Ju 87D Stuka Dive-Bomber - Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Stukageschwader 2, Eastern Front, 1944-'45 (1:48 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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